After finishing Christmas in Lucky Harbor I had to go back and reread Head Over Heels because it felt unfinished if I stopped with The Sweetest Thing. I have to say that this was not my favorite book in the series, but after going back I have a new found appreciation for it. Actually, I think I read this one faster than any of the others and that’s saying something when The Sweetest Thing took me just over two days to read.
Chloe Treager is the youngest of Phoebe Treager’s three daughters and has been dubbed “The Wild Child.” Because she grew up living the hippie life with Phoebe she never really had a home, but now that she’s with Tara and Maddie, she finally feels like she belongs somewhere. She’s changed a lot in the last year, but most people still look at her as the sister most likely to wind up in the newspaper for all the wrong reasons. Oddly enough, the only person who is able to see the real Chloe is Sheriff Sawyer Thompson.
Sawyer Thompson has devoted his adult life to Lucky Harbor. He is known for going the extra mile to help people and he rarely ever looks the other way when it comes to people breaking the law. But Chloe intrigues him. His best friends are engaged to her sisters and so he sees her a lot. The more time he spends in her company, the more he wants to know her better.
Like I said above, this was not my favorite Lucky Harbor novel, but I’ve come to see it in another light. I think part of my problem with it when I first read it two years ago was the age difference between Chloe and Sawyer (she was 25 and he was 35). That didn’t bother me this time around and I’m not sure when I stopped seeing a ten year age difference as one of the things that made me give up on a book. While I still see 25 as being a bit young, I don’t think that a relationship between a 25 year old and a 35 year old is unrealistic any more.
Anyway, the thing that I loved about this book was seeing how Chloe and Sawyer complemented each other. Yes, Chloe had already changed when the book began, but as she spent time with Sawyer, she suddenly started to become more responsible. I don’t doubt that this was because he was the only person who was able to see her for who she was and understood where she was coming from. Even her sisters, had trouble seeing how much she’d changed, but Sawyer saw it and I think that because he saw it, she could feel confident in those changes.
The biggest change, however, is within Sawyer. For the most of his adult life, he felt as if he needed to behave a certain way and do certain things to make up for his youthful indiscretions. He believed that he owed the town for giving him a second chance. He is not one to let himself have a good time outside of hanging out with Jax and Ford. Back in my Catholic school days, we talked about Biblical punishments, one of which was having to walk around wearing a sackcloth shirt (for those that don’t know, sackcloth is not a fun fabric to wear. It is itchy and not at all pleasing to the skin). Well, there were points when I was reading that I felt as if Sawyer was symbolically wearing a sackcloth shirt as punishment for something that wasn’t even really his fault. It was through his relationship with Chloe that he actually began to forgive himself and realize that he’s not responsible for other people’s actions. I don’t think he’ll ever be the guy that lets loose, but I also don’t see him blaming himself for things outside of his control any more either.
The one thing that shouldn’t have worked, but totally did was the relationship aspect. For the most part, their relationship was completely behind closed doors. They didn’t go out on dates and even when they were in the same place at the same time, they didn’t act like a couple. That’s because they didn’t see themselves as one. This was both a bit annoying, but also helped them to understand each other. Whenever they were together, they actually were the only people in the world. There was no interference from her sisters or Lucille’s blue haired posse. They got to spend hours at a time together and I don’t know any couples that got to do that. The only other books with that type of relationship are the ones where the protagonists are stranded in a cabin in the woods during a snowstorm (or something like that). However, because their relationship was completely private, it was easy for them to see themselves as “friends who have sex” and it didn’t help that they never once talked about where they saw whatever was going on between them was actually going. True, there were little things (like Sawyer researching ways for them to be physical without her having an asthma attack or Chloe showing up at the hospital while he was waiting to hear about his father’s heart surgery), but the biggest issue they had was never knowing how the other felt.
There was one thing that confused me, though. At one point, Chloe thinks about how she and Phoebe had only ever visited Lucky Harbor a couple of times when she was a kid, however, we know that Tara spent an entire summer with Phoebe in which they lived in Lucky Harbor. That was when she first met Ford and had Mia. We also know that Chloe always lived with Phoebe. Based on things she said about how they lived, I would imagine spending an entire summer in one place would feel like a long time to 10 year old Chloe, who’d only ever camped out with her mother. So, was she not present during that summer and if not, where was she? She didn’t know who her father was, so she wasn’t with him, and Phoebe’s parents owned the inn, so she couldn’t have been somewhere with them. I can’t be the only one confused by this. Can I?
The last thing that I feel like I have to say is that because Sawyer was the town’s sheriff, I think Ms. Shalvis felt the need to add a suspense aspect to the narrative. I love suspense, but I don’t really feel like it fit here. There were things that didn’t really add up and they felt like they were put in at the last moment as a way to get Chloe and Sawyer to realize their feelings for each other were deeper than originally thought. I think that if this was present throughout the book, it would have worked better, but because it wasn’t even really alluded to it was out of place.